Blackie

Of all the animals that lived with us as we six kids were growing up, the one I remember the best was Blackie. Blackie wasn’t my cat nor did he belong to any of my siblings. From years of experience with cats, I believe you don’t own them, they own you.

Blackie owned my dad and that was only right. They were a lot alike. Cats could teach graduate courses in Being Aloof. My father was equally distant to us.

Dad and Blackie were both tough. Dad, an auto mechanic, came home with scabs on his forehead because he’d come up too quickly from under a car hood. (Bang! “Ouch!”) He’d get those blackened fingernail beds and he’d have grease all over him. Blackie had bald patches, and a couple notches in his ear from years of cat fights.

One night, Dad and Blackie revealed their respective vulnerabilities. Aged, deaf, and not as quick as he once was, Blackie didn’t hear the car when Dad pulled into the driveway. We almost always heard it and usually ran to the door to greet him.

This time he dashed back outside with a flashlight in his hand. “I think I just ran over Blackie.”

We were stunned. We waited.

Dad came back in and dropped onto this chair. He rested his elbow on the kitchen table, put his head in his hand and cried.

Dad? Crying? We were stunned. We waited.

We rarely dared to touch my dad or gesture in an intimate way, but we stood there around him and were quiet. He didn’t tell us to go away.

Somehow in his death, Blackie gave my father permission to let us see his soft side. Dad wasn’t instantly cured of Being Aloof, but we knew he had potential. He was on his way.

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Children Learn

parenting silhouetteMany years ago when my children were small, I found this little treatise on parenting. I wanted to save it and keep it somewhere I could see it as a reminder. The craft of decoupage was popular then, so it ended up on a piece of wood.

That piece of wood with the message is gone. But I made sure to copy and save in electronic form what you see below.

I know I didn’t parent perfectly then and I struggle even now as a mom to grown children. There’s always going to be some baggage, I suppose. I carried some of my own.

But surely, one can hope.

“Children Learn What They Live”

When children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.

When children live with hostility, they learn to fight.

When children live with ridicule, they learn to be shy.

When children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.

When children live with tolerance, they learn to be patient.

When children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.

When children live with security, they learn to have faith.

When children live with fairness, they learn justice.

When children live with praise, they learn to appreciate.

When children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.

When children live with acceptance and friendship, they learn to find love in the world.

Be a blessing to someone today.